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Public Statement: China (April 2019)

 The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the surveillance and restrictions on freedom of movement of lawyer Jiang Tianyong

Toronto, ON — The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern over the surveillance and restrictions on freedom of movement of lawyer Jiang Tianyong. When reports of serious issues of injustice to lawyers and the judiciary come to our attention, we advocate for the protection of their inalienable human rights.
 
On February 28, 2019, Jiang Tianyong was released from prison at the end of a two-year sentence for “incitement to subvert state power”, according to credible reports. Since his release, he has been subjected to oppressive conditions such as heavy surveillance by state security police, being followed by an unidentified group of people dressed in black, and restrictions on his freedom to choose his employment and residence.
 
Jiang Tianyong’s health severely declined during his detention and remains in serious condition after his release. According to credible reports, his friends and family have communicated the following details regarding the treatment he endured in prison: he was forced by prison officials to sit on equipment which caused spine injury making him no longer able to sit upright, he faced psychological trauma which has caused significant memory loss, he was regularly forced to consume unknown medication, his hands and feet were bound to an iron chair, he faced sleep deprivation and beatings, and he was forced to sit on cold concrete for prolonged periods of time during efforts to obtain a confession from him.
 
Reports indicate that Jin Bianling, wife of Jiang Tianyong, has called on the government to allow Jiang Tianyong to travel overseas to seek medical treatment. The Law Society implores His Excellency to ensure that Jiang Tianyong can safely leave the country to receive necessary medical treatment. As Jiang Tianyong is no longer serving his sentence, the Law Society urges the government of China to take steps so that the surveillance, harassment and other restrictions against him and his family are ceased.
 
The Law Society of Ontario is deeply concerned about Jiang Tianyong’s situation. Reports indicate that since July 2015, hundreds of lawyers and human rights defenders in China have been questioned, detained or charged as a result of their human rights work. We strongly believe that lawyers should be able to carry out their duties without fear for their lives, liberty and security.
 
The Law Society urges Your Excellency to comply with China’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
 
Article 16 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states:
 
Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
 
Article 17 states:
 
Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
 
Article 18 states:
 
Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.
 
The Law Society urges the government of China to:

  1. immediately and unconditionally release Jiang Tianyong;

  2. guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Jiang Tianyong;

  3. ensure that any proceedings against Jiang Tianyong are carried out in full compliance with his right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;

  4. put an end to all acts of harassment against Jiang Tianyong and all other human rights lawyers and defenders in China; and

  5. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.